June 27, 2022

Grange Hall and Museum to debut at Boone County Fair

BELVIDERE, Ill. — History, of the Boone County Fairgrounds and of rural America itself, will have a moment at the 2022 Boone County Fair — and the Boone County Fairs in the future.

“We are building a Grange Hall and Museum right here on the fairgrounds,” said Tom Ratcliffe, Boone County Fair board member and director of advertising and publicity for the Boone County Fair.

The new addition will replace a museum that had been housed in the fair’s former administration building on the grounds.

“One of our county Granges sold their building. They can build a new hall. They can get their money back from the state Grange, so that is what they are doing. The hall can be used by any of the Granges around the area and we will have the Grange museum in there, as well,” Ratcliffe said.

The new museum is being designed in the style of an early 1900s dairy barn, complete with a metal cupola at the top.

The Grange hall and museum is significant to the fair since the Boone County Fairgrounds is owned by the seven Grange chapters in Boone County.

The new Grange Hall and Museum will be officially opened on Aug. 9, the first day of the fair.

The new hall will share space with many other activities, events, shows and displays at the 2022 Boone County Fair.

Last year, the fair had some 209,000 people come through the fairgrounds gates, with attendance being lower than in years past due to rain and extreme heat on a couple days of the fair. Even then, 2021 saw the fair attendance on Friday and Sunday set records.

Ratcliffe said the fair’s “secret recipe” to bringing in crowds by the tens of thousands is simple.

“We are very fortunate. We just have a lot of stuff. We just pack the place with activities and vendors and exhibits,” he said.

Livestock and livestock shows continue to be a centerpiece at the Boone County Fair.

“We have 4,000 head of livestock at the fair. We have one of the biggest draft horse shows for a county fair in the state. We had 250 draft horses last year and we’ve had teams come from Canada to show here in past years. Our pony show is second to none. We had over 300 ponies last year. We have the biggest goat show. Around 300 goats showed last year. We have a lot of livestock and that brings in a lot of people. People just love to see the animals and watch the livestock shows,” Ratcliffe said.

Everything at the fair is done in a big way. Three large concessions buildings house vendors selling everything from cheese to cookware and advertising their home improvement and construction services. On the grounds outside, displays show off everything from cars to combines.

“We still have farm machinery exhibits and not a lot of fairs have those anymore,” Ratcliffe said.

This year, the fair’s country concert, on Saturday night, will feature Neal McCoy and Jo Dee Messina. Other grandstand events include truck and tractor pulls, bull riding and two demolition derbies on Sunday, Aug. 14.

“We just really try to offer something for everyone and events and activities that appeal to visitors of every age,” Ratcliffe said.

For more information and a detailed schedule of events, go to www.boonecountyfair.com or call the fair office at 815-544-2900.